How long would this hell continue? Had it been six or seven days? Surely no one under similar circumstances would blame him for forgetting how long he had spent wandering through this endless torture of boring white. He spent his days wandering throughout the rooms, sometimes humming to make the time pass quicker. He arrived in the rooms with no recollection of his past, how he got there, or even why he was here. Sure he knew basic information about the world, that there was this place called America that he knew a lot about. He actually knew quite a bit about most places he could remember, but he couldn't remember where he was from. A flood of random facts saturated his mind. A pentagon has five sides, 2+2=4, Robert Frost was a great American poet-why American poetry? He didn't even know. Sure, knowing that Hades named Cerberus Spot was funny, but what was he gonna do with that?
All of this mystery made him feel as though he was being tested. A sudden feeling of dread came over him, slowly glancing from his left to his right he crouched down to sit for a moment and catch his breath; collect himself. Would he ever find anything out here? Was this some new military testing? Had he been a politician who was now kidnapped by some revenge-seeking rouge terrorists? As his eyes gazed down to the floor, he took a moment to take his appearance in. He was fairly young, probably early to mid-twenties, had a recent shave, buzzed hair, looked as though he was someone who worked in a highly respectable position. His choice in clothing also supported his hypothesis. He was wearing a slim fit navy suit with a red and silver striped tie. A pair of shiny black dress shoes and a thick black belt completed his outfit. He was decently muscular and gave off an overall athletic impression. He was overall pleased with how he looked, maybe the only good thing about the situation he found himself in was that he favored the image that glared back at him.
"Hello?" He yelled into the emptiness, hoping to hear anything in return.
Sighing in defeat he stretched and slowly unbuttoned his blazer. His mind succumbing to the blank space around him that had finally taken over. Unexpectedly a voice so clear, so powerful infiltrated his ears, his body shuddered as he heard him speak;
"Wanderers, welcome... You have all succeeded in the first task of completing the trial by fire. After proving yourself, we applaud you for keeping your sanity during the past seven days of complete isolation."
His head immediately turned in the direction of the sound, yet only found his head turning randomly as though the voice itself had been everywhere: seemingly echoing within his head. A shudder surged through his body as he felt an intense burning sensation on the back of his right hand. As he grasped his hand in pain, he carefully released his clutch to reveal something was burnt on him. "What the hell?" he asked. Suddenly a new wave of paralyzing agony brought him to his knees. A crisp gold 10 suddenly illuminated at the base of his knuckles. It was fairly large, covering most of his skin and was glowing ominously, the air smelling like burnt skin and sulfur.
"Welcome to the WhiteRooms." The barbaric voice concluded and a door appeared. As if by command, a thin black door stood before him. Staggering to his feet, the burning sensation was gone. The look of pure wonder crept onto his face. He refused to stay in this white purgatory any longer. The past seven days had been nothing short of unbearable, but what fate is this door concealing? Could there be something awful waiting for him on the other side? Surely, there can't be anything worse than wandering around in a pitch white land for days on end? He took a step forward and grabbed the matte black knob, slowly opening the door to reveal absolute darkness. As he took the first step inside he felt as though he was falling. A dizzying sense of unknown direction came over him.
Fear flooded him for the first time. He wasn't scared of waking up with no memory. He felt oddly at peace in memory. A week of solitude wasn't as bad as he had originally thought it had been now that he was here: a pitch black place that was the opposite of peace. The fear he had quickly turned into despair. Was he in hell-no-was he dead? He had grown accustomed to the silence, but this was something entirely different. Throughout his time in the white hell, he had the freedom to think, exercise, take a moment to think about how he got there, but now even that was taken from him as he began to tumble down into an endless pit.
As he continued to fall through the darkness, he panicked. Was this ever going to end? If I'm not dead already, I will be at the end of this fall, he thought. He didn't know it, but he was far from alone.
"You!" an elated voice cried with joy. Snapping his head around him in pursuit of the voice, he suddenly felt his center of gravity shift as someone flew into him with the force of what felt like a semi-truck. A boy had him by the waist. Streams of joyful tears ran down his face. Incoherent sentences spewed from the boy's mouth as he gripped onto his newly found fellow's waist.
"You see... I-I thought I was alone! O-oh thank the heavens. Thank the heavenssss... " He stammered between sobs. Slowly he looked up at him to see that he had scratches all over his face and arms. His face was pained and relieved at the same time. "That hellish place- I felt that I was going insane! There was noth-ing, nothing! I tried to kill myself, I threw myself onto the floor, t-tried to dig into my skin, but I couldn't." The boy said sniffling, pulling away only to wipe his face.
"Who are you? What is thi-"
"I don't know!" The boy replied. "All I know is what is happening right now." Quickly the man let go and they both abruptly stopped falling. They closed their eyes as a blinding light consumed their view. When they opened them they were laying on a small patch of dirt in the middle of a desert.
The sweet smell of lilac and roses filled the air around them.
"This is so b-beautiful." The boy took a deep breath and raised his hand to look down through the grassy valley in the distance. The man looked over and noticed the boy too had a golden ten burned into his hand. For a few minutes, nothing was said, they stood simply taking in the scenery that had formed in front of them. The blue sky was teeming with the sun's illumination. The ground was soft brown and yellow. Something so ordinary as the dirt below their feet was a thing the both of them had grown to miss. The boy took the initiative and sifted the dirt through his fingers, as though he himself needed to confirm it was real. His messy blonde hair shaking with joy as he screamed.
"Tell him to shut up." A girl's voice spoke with annoyance.
"Cut him some slack, he probably hasn't seen anything besides white. May I remind you that when you first appeared you did something similar?" A grizzly man grunted.
Two other people were present within the desert terrain. A young girl who emanated the flowery scent and an older man. The girl wearing a maroon and orange victorian dress lined in silver thread, her black kitten heels in her right hand. Her brunette hair curled in thick twists and pinned on the top of her head. Her amber eyes narrowing as he stared at her. "Sorry about what I said." She said coldly.
The Older man who seemed to be in his early 40's, wore a black judo suit with a symbol he didn't recognize. Though what he did recognize was the fact that the man was currently doing effortless push-ups. "Glad to have you here!" he stated as he continued his exercise.
Confused, he nervously tugged on his tie and untucked his shirt. "Pleasure to meet you all."
The girl nodded in acknowledgment. Though his eyes weren't on the three people remaining, but past them. Where a single man lay; older, fatigued, and yet his eyes seared him as he examined the man and the boy who now stood before him. His body was old, but his eyes hid a younger self. Old obsidian chains wrapped his entire torso and back. The chains dug into his forearms and shoulders when he moved. His stomach was covered in wounds that oozed golden blood. The chains wrapped around a massive rock, with a vulture resting atop it.
As the man fidgeted with his tie, a memory came back to him, he knew exactly who that man is, a titan who was punished for giving fire to humanity.
"Ah, Lee Wang. Interesting attire. Is that navy blue? It suits you." Though he looked sickly and weak. He smiled as though nothing was wrong with him. His eyes now on the man he called Lee. Was that his name? Lee. Leeee, it had a hazy sense of familiarity to it.
Slowly, his eyes scanned over the remaining three people and spoke what they all mutually agreed; was and would be their names.
"Emilia Von Schwartz." Was the name of the girl who gave a dissatisfied look.
"Fao Shan" Was the young man with the blonde hair, who smiled upon hearing it.
"And you. As the oldest please take care of these three for me, Fang Shen."
They all looked at the old man with surprise and skepticism. They knew nothing other than what this man proclaimed was their names. Lee stepped forward closer to the man who knew more about him than he himself did. Was there more he understood? Steadying his nerves, he glanced back at the three he just met. They looked at him with confusion. He turned back to the man.
The group gasped. How could he know who he was? They clearly had no information regarding this immortal deity.
"Yes, ch-child?" He replied, his voice cracking.
"Why are we here?" As soon as the words left his lips, he felt as though he had asked a million dollar question. At that single statement, Emilia had completely turned to them with a stern form of attention. Fao Shan dusted his hands and moved forward in hesitation. Fang Shen, with a hearty harrumph, was now standing, waiting in little interest. They all had that question, though the fact that someone asked it was enough to be interested. Prometheus coughed as he glanced up at the vulture turning his head to them with a somber smile.
"You are all here within reasons only you will know the longer you stay... The farther you go." Prometheus said continuing to look at the vulture.
"And what's that supposed to mean?" Emilia roared in protest to that sentence. As she moved towards Prometheus, her fists clenched, Fang Shen's hand instinctively placed itself on her shoulder, stopping her completely. Prometheus chuckled as he sighed. "I am here only to give your names back to you. You passed the first Trial by Fire. After passing the others you shall begin your true journey."
"I thought you were with an eagle? Not a vulture." Lee noted.
"This is not my first offense young one, you have much to learn. Now go." Prometheus glared down at Lee.
A White door once again formed within the desert. ominous as it was mysterious to the four. Turning back to where Prometheus was, only to find a pool of golden blood and a bundle of empty obsidian chains placed atop the boulder.
"Well, we know nothing more than what we already knew." Emilia spit sourly. Fang Shen only chuckling at her outburst. Lee sighed, at least he wasn't alone.
"It's a pleasure to meet you all, and now that we know each other- it stands that we can all agree we only know our names. Mine is Lee Wang," he stated slowly, stepping closer to the trio. They all turned to him and nodded in response.
The young boy stiffened and held his hand out to shake the others, "Fao Shan."
"Emilia Von Schwartz." The girl stated sighingly, doing a small courtesy.
"Fang Shen." The old man stated slowly, stretching his arms, emphasizing his impressively large muscles.
Lee only chuckled at the three eccentrics he had just met, "Well then, shall we go?" he asked.
Before they could respond. He moved forward, and turned the knob on the door.